A Short Maya Angelou Timeline

This Maya Angelou timeline documents the major events in her life. Maya Angelou's birth name was Marguerite Ann Johnson. She was born to Vivian Baxter Johnson and Bailey Johnson in Saint Louis, Missouri. Maya Angelou is a writer, poet, dancer and contributor to the Civil Rights Movement.

  • 1928: Maya Angelou was born on April 4.
  • 1931: Maya's parents, Vivian and Bailey, divorced. Maya and her brother moved in with her paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson, who lived in Stamps, Arkansas, since neither Vivian nor Bailey were capable of caring for the children at the time.
  • 1935: Maya and her brother moved back in with their mother, Vivian, in Saint Louis.
  • 1937: Maya's mother took on a boyfriend, who sexually abused Maya. He raped Maya when she was only eight years old. Maya was so traumatized that she did not speak for five years. Maya and her brother went back to live with their grandmother again.
  • 1941: Maya and her brother moved back in with their mother, in San Francisco. Maya attended George Washington High School and took dance and drama classes at California Labor School.
  • 1942: One of Maya's teachers, Bertha Flowers, took a special interest in Maya and coaxed her into speaking again. Later that year, Maya dropped out of school. She worked as a cable car conductor.
  • 1943: Maya returned to high school, got pregnant and gave birth to her son, Clyde, two weeks after she graduated from high school. She worked as a waitress and a cook, as well as other side jobs. At times she worked as a prostitute and a madam to provide for her son.
  • 1949: Maya married Tosh Angelos, a Greek sailor.
  • 1952: Maya divorced Tosh Angelos. At this time, she began working as a nightclub singer and studying dance with Pearl Primus. This is when she formally took the name Maya instead of Marguerite.
  • 1954-1955: Maya tours with a production of Porgy and Bess.
  • 1957: Maya performs in an off-Broadway play, Calypso Heat Wave, and records an album entitled Caylpso Lady.
  • 1959: Maya joins the Harlem Writers' Guild and serves as a leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
  • 1961: Maya falls in love with South African Civil Rights Movement Activist Vusumzi Make. She follows him to London and Africa. While in Cairo, Egypt, she works for the Arab Observer as an editor. Maya's relationship with Vusumzi does not last.
  • 1963: Maya moved to Ghana and works for the University of Ghana as an assistant administrator for three years.
  • 1966: Maya returns to the United States and pledges to help Malcom X further the civil rights movement for black Americans.
  • 1968: Malcolm X is assassinated. Maya begins writing, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Maya writes a PBS television series titled Black, Blues, Black.
  • 1970: "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is published.
  • 1971: Maya's collection of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water -Fore I Die, is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She receives the prize in 1972.
  • 1972: Maya's screenplay, Georgia, Georgia, is produced.
  • 1973 - Maya marries Paul Du Feu. She also debuts on Broadway in the show Look Away. She receives a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the show.
  • 1974: Maya publishes "Gather Together in My Name".
  • 1976: Maya publishes "Singin' and Swingin'" and "Getting Merry Like Christmas".
  • 1980: Maya and Paul Du Feu divorce.
  • 1981: Maya publishes "The Heart of a Woman."
  • 1986: Maya publishes "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes."
  • 1993: Maya gets to read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's inauguration ceremony.
  • 2002: Maya publishes "A Song Flung Up to Heaven"
  • 2006: Maya receives the Mother Teresa Award.
  • 2008: Maya receives the Hope for Peace and Justice Voice of Peace awards.
  • 2009: Maya writes a poem in honor of Michael Jackson following his death. The poem is read by Queen Latifah at the memorial honoring Jackson.
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Among the famous poems by Maya Angelou are works ranging from a tribute to Michael Jackson to the first poem read by an African-American woman at a presidential inauguration.

Learn how events in the Maya Angelou timeline influenced her work, and discover inspirational Maya Angelou quotations, love poems by Maya Angelou and famous poems by Maya Angelou. 

Learn how events in the Maya Angelou timeline influenced her work, and discover inspirational Maya Angelou quotations, love poems by Maya Angelou and famous poems by Maya Angelou. 

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